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Wright Words: What do you tell a prospective missionary before entering the MTC?

Published: Tuesday, April 22 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

Elder Wright in his first area, Sete Lagoas.

Jason Wright

Don’t you love mission-call season?

It’s that special time of year where nearly every Sunday, someone stands at the pulpit and announces that another young man or woman has received a mission call. Texts are flying and Facebook lights up with cellphone videos of those iconic, large white envelopes being opened in front of a huge world map.

Then, no matter where one is called to serve, cheers erupt, mothers cry and the countdown begins.

Of course, adults young and old enter Missionary Training Centers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the year, but with high schools and college classes ending, this is the season of the surge.

With so many preparing to serve, and with my own daughter considering a mission later this year, I've been thinking back on the same season years ago when I received my call in April and reported to the Missionary Training Center in July.

I’ve imagined sitting down and writing a letter to a much younger, much more dark haired Elder Wright to share insights on this critical time in his life. What would I say?

Dear Younger Jason,

It's hard to believe after years of singing, “I hope they call me on a mission...” they’ve finally called you on a mission!

No longer are you wondering what the day will be like. The fuzzy hypothetical has become concrete reality. You’re about to graduate from that tiny “Future Missionary” nametag to the real deal.

Soon your mission call will arrive — or maybe it already has — and the tick tock to your report date at the MTC will begin to get louder.

Jason, you'll be tempted in these last few months, weeks and days to grow out that scruffy facial hair you call a beard. You’ll say that it won't be an option for the next two years and so you should grow it while you can. Knowing you as I do, you might also want to let that hair get a little long or dye it a funky color.

Don't.

Use this sacred time now to begin to think, behave and look like a missionary. You don't need to wear a white shirt every day or shave at 6:30 a.m. You need not knock random doors in the neighborhood or engage in street contacting. But if you’ll start to look the part and begin thinking like a missionary, you’ll send a message to heaven that you're ready be led by a mission president, a trainer in the mission field and, most importantly, by the Spirit.

Acknowledging that your days of dating will come to pause during your mission, you might challenge yourself to date as much as possible. A friend might even dare you to go on three dates on a single Saturday less than a month before reporting for your mission. Like other missionaries, you might convince yourself to leave it all in the field before you enter the field.

Don't.

By all means, socialize and spend time with those you love that share your values, particularly those other young adults in the same stage of their life preparing to serve. But rather than spending time chasing romance, use these days to build friendships and share the gospel. There will be time to find a spouse. This isn’t it.

May we talk about your sleep habits, Jason? 6:30 is a real time of day, not just numbers on your watch. Knowing your schedule is about to change dramatically, you might choose to sleep late until rules require otherwise.

Don’t.

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